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Review: ‘Chucky’ Season 3 Premiere “Murder at 1600”

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I’m not sure about the rest of you, but the world outside my door is screaming spooky season. The rain is coming down more frequently, the leaves are changing colors, and Halloween decorations are starting to go up. The only thing that could make it better is getting cozy with a glass of warm apple cider and a spooky film or television. You may flick on a favorite horror movie, but USA and SYFY have something else that might be perfect for you and this season, with the premiere of Chucky season 3.

The first part of this eight-episode season consists of four episodes, a split contrived from the ongoing strikes. The premiere episode, “Murder at 1600” was written by Nick Zigler and show creator Don Mancini, the latter having written every film in the Child’s Play franchise. This season sees the return of quite a few familiar faces as well as a few new actors to round out the cast. Does the Chucky season 3 premiere continue the high quality from the first two seasons? Continue on to find out.

[Warning: spoilers from the Chucky season 3 premiere are below!]

A new home spells more trouble in Chucky season 3 premiere

There’s something innately scary about children in horror films, and the first episode of Chucky season 3 embraces that in its opening moments. It begins with Henry (Callum Vinson), a boy frightened by what he thinks is a ghost. His mother, Charlotte (Lara Jean Chorostecki) comes into the room, scolding him for being scared of something that doesn’t exist. However, the true horror comes when she looks over at Henry’s friend, a Good Guy doll named Joseph whom we all know is Chucky using a pseudonym. As Henry’s mother leaves his room, the child leans over to ensure Joseph that they can handle this. A sentiment to which the doll replies “We sure do!”

As Chucky’s doll-like voice utters those words, the camera pans out to reveal that Henry and his family reside in not just any old house, but the White House. As in President of the United States White House. As the stakes of this season settle into the viewers, the lights at the monument to our Nation’s history go down, causing Henry to scream, becoming beyond freaked out about the ghost he believes to haunt the residence.

Chucky and Henry. Chucky Season 3
Henry (Callum Vinson) and Chucky/Joseph. Chucky (USA/SYFY).

It then becomes a scramble to collect the First Family and get them to the safe room, however, the only hold-up is Henry who refuses to go without his favorite doll Joseph. Eventually, the Secret Service locates the doll and finally, the First Family is escorted to safety. Right? Probably not.

“Murder at 1600” then cuts to Jake Wheeler (Zackary Arthur), one of our main three protagonists for the series. Jake’s grown so much from the young teenager we first met in season one. Through a vlog, he shares that he and his friends have all worked towards healing in their own ways from the horrors that Chucky, voiced by Brad Dourif, has caused them.

Jake’s been healing through his art, a piece of his character that harkens back to his favorite pastime from the first season. However, to heal completely, he’s looking for a Good Guy doll, to finish his masterpiece, but for some reason, all of them have disappeared off the face of the Earth. But the rumor is there’s one left, somewhere, and Jake is on the hunt for it.

Messing with the First Family

The story jumps once again to the First Family, as Henry, Charlotte, Henry’s older brother Grant (Jackson Kelly), and President James Collins (Devon Sawa) spend some time together eating breakfast. One of the funniest gags of the entire show is how Sawa plays a new role in each season, without mention or reason as to why so many people in the same universe look the same. Brings a new meaning to one in a million.

There seems to be quite a bit of tension within the family, with Grant and his mother at odds from the get-go. Grant seems against everything the government represents, which rubs both of his parents the wrong way. While President James is more docile and passive to Grant’s antics, his mother pushes back and causes friction. The bigger problem though seems to be that no one seems to understand the youngest Collins and his creepy doll. A doll that is super interested in seeing the Oval Office and observing what the President does in his day job as the leader of the free world.

Through a discussion with the President and some of his staff, the audience learns that the government was hacked, but it’s unclear who or what has done so. It feels safe to guess that it’s related to Chucky and how he found his way into the White House, but I suppose you never know.

Chucky season 3- First Family
The First Family from season 3. Chucky (USA/SYFY).

In another interlude between points in the First Family’s story, we find Lexy (Alyvia Alyn Lind) dancing in front of a camera for views. While the dancing and outfit are provocative, there is an ulterior motive. Lexy is looking for her sister, who was kidnapped the previous Christmas after Chucky brutally murdered their mother. Combining this mission with dancing on social media is the most Lexy thing I could ever think of, but it also shows how much this character has grown. She’s no longer just a self-absorbed drama queen. Instead, she’s doing what she can to connect with those she lost.

Flashing back to the White House, Chucky is no longer sitting idly by, waiting for an opportunity to fall into his lap. His actions start off small, such as moving himself around the Oval Office, giving the President a small fright, but a bigger annoyance. However, it isn’t that long after that first scare that Chucky takes the life of a Secret Service officer, signaling that the peace is over and the murderous doll is on the hunt for his next target.

A return to form for the series

Devon (Björgvin Arnarson), the final piece to the Hackensack trio, has continued his dream of having his own podcast. This again is a callback to his life before Chucky, however now his podcast focuses on a rehashing of the events that negatively impacted his life. It’s understandable how doing so would be healing, like conducting therapy for himself with a collection of listeners instead of a psychologist. As Jake said, each one of these survivors is healing in their own way, some perhaps healthier than others.

Jake and Devon attempt to steal a moment together for some intimacy, but Chucky has other plans. The couple is interrupted by Lexy who informs them that Chucky has a message for them. He taunts them, telling them he’s still alive, but hangs up before giving away where he is. Something wicked is coming for them, but it seems that the trio will be ready for it when it does.

Later discovering Chucky’s location, Jake, Lexy, and Devon decide to take the fight to Chucky once more, hopefully ridding the world of his terror once and for all.

The positives and negatives of the season 3 premiere of Chucky

Everything that made the first two seasons, and the entire Child’s Play franchise for that matter, special is still present in the premiere episode. The writing from Zigler and Mancini is exceptional, with a tight story that makes use of every minute of the episode. The wittiness that is a trademark of the franchise is still there, with moments that make me laugh at loud. There are also the gruesome moments that mark the Chucky series, such as the death of Henry’s Secret Service agent. That scene might have made me cringe just a bit from the explosiveness of it.

With the writing remaining consistent as ever, coming into the third season is like returning to an old friend. From the story to the characters, these writers understand what makes this series so entertaining and continue to deliver episode after episode, season after season. Personally, I didn’t think there was a sophomore slump between the first and second seasons, and that sentiment remains the same between last year and now. It is not often that a show can remain that consistent year in and year out, but this is one of the reasons that Chucky remains at the top of my list.

Chucky Season 3 Jake
Jake Wheeler (Zackary Arthur). Chucky (USA/SYFY).

Also remaining consistent in Chucky season 3 is the quality of acting from Zackary Arthur, Björgvin Arnarson, and Alyvia Alyn Lind. These three characters have grown substantially from the first season, but their cores remain the same. They are greatly flawed characters, having suffered so much at the hands of a murderous doll. Regardless of their flaws, they are also incredibly likable, even when they make questionable decisions. While their parts were small in the premiere episode, the promise of so much more to come in the rest of the season makes me elated beyond compare. 

Even though most of the episode is dedicated to the First Family, the characters themselves feel underdeveloped. Granted this is only the first chapter of their story, so there is plenty of time to grow and develop, I didn’t get a real sense of who they were. Part of that could be because their roles don’t matter to the larger narrative of season three, similar to some of the staff at the school in season 2. 

I do love that Devon Sawa has returned for another season, a ridiculous bit that I hope continues for as long as the series does. Sawa continues to be a powerhouse in every role he plays in this series, although I wonder if the pattern of his death will continue in season 3.

Final thoughts on the Chucky season 3 premiere

Overall, the Chucky season 3 premiere is a strong episode of what promises to be a worthy season. While there are some minor flaws in how some of the new characters are fleshed out, the premise of Chucky in the White House is hilarious and killer in all the right ways. I cannot wait to see where the season goes from here, and I’ll be waiting every Wednesday to check it out.

Chucky season 3 airs Wednesday on USA and SYFY, and streams on Peacock. Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord if you’ll be tuning in to this season.

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Brian Kitson

Working hard to bring you the latest news and thoughtful analysis of all things nerdy!

Brian Kitson has 365 posts and counting. See all posts by Brian Kitson